Tasmania has historically been home to one of the most heavily regulated energy markets in Australia. While this meant retail competition was non-existent until recently, it at least made electricity and gas prices fairly stable and easy to understand. In this article, Canstar Blue introduces you to Tasmania’s energy retailers and distributors, and explains the fundamentals of the Tasmanian energy market.
The difference between retailers, distributors and generators
Before we get underway, it’s worth making a basic point on terminology. The electricity and gas markets can respectively be broken into three tiers – retailers, distributors and generators.
- Generators: Produce the electricity and/or natural gas. Tasmania’s main electricity generator is Hydro Tasmania. Natural gas in Tasmania is imported from a variety of generators on the mainland.
- Distributors: These companies are responsible for delivering the electricity and gas from the generators to your property. Tasmania’s electricity distributor is TasNetworks. There are two gas distributors – Auroura Gas and Tas Gas.
- Retailers: Retailers are responsible for billing and customer services. The main retailers are Aurora Energy – an electricity and natural gas retailer – and Tas Gas, a natural gas retailer. But as we’ll come to, a competitor has now joined the electricity market for the first time.
Can I choose my electricity retailer? You can now!
Aurora Energy was the only electricity retailer servicing homes in Tasmania until February 2019 when 1st Energy was permitted to enter the local market. While the Tasmanian government introduced Full Retail Competition in 2014, allowing for other retailers to enter the market and compete for customers, no one came to the table until Melbourne-based 1st Energy made the move. This was likely because power prices remain regulated. However, the good news for electricity customers in Tasmania is that, with a regulated price cap, the only way is down for any electricity retailer new to the market and looking to get households to switch.
Business electricity retailers in Tasmania
There are three electricity retailers for businesses to choose from in Tasmania. They are:
- ERM Business Energy (All businesses)
- Flow Business Energy (For businesses consuming 160 mWh/year+)
- AGL (For businesses consuming 4 GWh/year+).
Aurora Energy also contracts business electricity customers. Businesses using less than 150 mWh are charged the same as residential Aurora customers, while a different pricing structure applies to businesses using more than 150 mWh.
Most experts attribute the lack of residential market competition to price regulation. As it stands, profit margins are too small for most new retailers to come to Tasmania. With wholesale power prices rising and the possibility of a price hike, there’s speculation that the government may consider deregulating electricity prices in the future to encourage more competition.
Tasmania Residential Electricity Prices
If you’ve been following the news, chances are you’ve heard of the ‘national energy crises’. Power prices have soared across most of Australia, putting strain on the cost of living. While Tasmanians have seen a slight increase in the cost of electricity, the state government’s electricity price cap has kept rates reasonable in recent years (at least compared to other parts of the country). With that said, wholesale electricity prices in Tasmania may still rise due to its link with the Victorian wholesale price. That means the government price regulation can’t be protected from price hikes forever.
Aurora Electricity Rates
The table below shows Aurora Energy’s electricity usage and supply charges for Tasmania, with five different tariffs available. A tariff refers to the electricity pricing structure. Different rates apply to different the tariffs. Below are Aurora’s standard residential electricity prices.
|Tariff||Type||Supply Charge||Usage Charge|
|Tariff 31||Light and power||94.636 ¢/day||26.431 ¢/kWh|
|Tariff 41||Heating and hot water||17.646 ¢/day||17.164 ¢/kWh|
|Tariff 61||Controlled load w/ afternoon boost||21.808 ¢/day||13.819 ¢/kWh|
|Tariff 62||Controlled load (night only)||20.846 ¢/day||13.016 ¢/kWh|
|Tariff 93||Time of use||105.131 ¢/day||Peak: 31.948 ¢/kWh
Off-peak: 14.876 ¢/kWh
Prices as of February 22 2019. Visit Aurora Energy for more details.
1st Energy Electricity Rates
The first residential electricity challenger to Aurora Energy, 1st Energy offers very similar prices across its tariff structures. However, keep in mind that even subtle differences can have a big impact over time.
|Tariff||Type||Supply Charge||Usage Charge|
|Tariff 31||Light and power||94.63 ¢/day||26.42 ¢/kWh|
|Tariff 41||Heating and hot water||17.64 ¢/day||17.16 ¢/kWh|
|Tariff 61||Controlled load w/ afternoon boost||21.80 ¢/day||13.82 ¢/kWh|
|Tariff 62||Controlled load (night only)||20.85 ¢/day||13.01 ¢/kWh|
|Tariff 93||Time of use||105.13 ¢/day||Peak: 31.94 ¢/kWh
Off-peak: 14.87 ¢/kWh
Prices as of February 22 2019. Visit 1st Energy for more details.
Electricity discounts in Tasmania
The rates you pay for electricity in Tasmania are naturally hugely important. But the retailers also have other ways to help reduce your overall costs – namely through conditional discounts. The two electricity retailers in Tasmania currently offer the following electricity discounts:
- Aurora Energy: Customers who pay by direct debit may be eligible to receive a direct debit discount of 5.5 cents per day inc. GST
- 1st Energy: Customers who pay their bills on time receive a pay on time discount of 5% off electricity usage charges. This discount lasts for 12 month
Is 1st Energy cheaper than Aurora Energy?
There is very little in it, but it appears 1st Energy customers are likely to pay a little less than Aurora Energy customers. 1st Energy has entered the Tasmanian electricity market with very similar electricity usage and supply rates as Aurora Energy, but with a 5% pay on time discount to help reduce overall costs.
What if you have solar panels?
When you factor in the savings that come with solar power generation, it’s often harder to determine which provider comes out as the cheapest bet. Aurora Energy and 1st Energy both have reasonable feed-in tariffs to consider:
- Aurora Energy has a solar feed-in tariff of 8.541 cents per kWh
- 1st Energy has a solar feed-in tariff of 8.541 to 13.541 cents per kWh. A rebate of 18.541c/kWh may be available. Contact 1st Energy for details.
Can I choose my natural gas retailer?
There are two natural gas retailers in Tasmania – Tas Gas and Aurora Energy. Both retailers supply gas to the full range of customers, including residential, business and industrial. Tas Gas entered the Tasmania market following the introduction of Full Retail Competition back in 2003 and has come to dominate the state with 8,000 customers, accounting for roughly 65% of the market share. Both gas companies have nearly identical prices and services, so your choice of gas supplier will ultimately come down to the quality of service and personal preference. Although the market is open for new competitors to enter, it seems unlikely Tasmania will see a new gas retailer until the market grows.
Tasmania Natural Gas Prices
The price of natural gas is not regulated in Tasmania, yet there is a negligible difference in price between Tas Gas and Aurora Energy. There are also no published discounts and very little consumer switching. As you can see, Tas Gas usage rates are marginally cheaper, with the retailer having identical supply charges.
Aurora Gas Rates
|Customer Type||Daily Supply Charge||Usage Charge|
|Residential||53.9 ¢/day||3.939 c/MJ|
Tas Gas Rates
|Customer Type||Daily Supply Charge||Usage Charge|
|Residential||53.9 ¢/day||3.892 ¢/MJ|
Prices as of February 22 2019. Visit Aurora Energy or Tas Gas for more details.
Aurora Energy Tasmania
Aurora Energy is a state government-owned corporation and until recently was Tasmania’s only electricity retailer. Aurora’s prices remain fairly reasonable despite the relative lack of discounting and competition. It also has several features and options, including:
- Aurora Green: GreenPower products whereby Aurora Energy agrees to source a portion of your electricity from green sources.
- Aurora Online: Aurora’s online management portal
- Aurora PAY AS YOU GO: Pay for electricity credit in advance.
TasNetworks is again a state government-owned corporation and Tasmania’s only electricity distributor. As a distributor, TasNetworks is responsible for maintaining the poles and wires across the state. TasNetworks is also in charge of checking and maintaining electricity meters.
If you’re having trouble with your electricity meter, you experience a power outage, you want to report a faulty streetlight, or you need clearance to work near power cables, TasNetworks is who you contact – not Aurora.
Installing solar in Tasmania requires approval from TasNetworks. There are six steps to installing solar in Tasmania:
- Find an accredited solar installer
- The Installer submits a connection application with TasNetworks
- TasNetworks assesses whether solar system meets technical requirements and whether the network can accommodate your solar system.
- Once approved, the solar installer will begin installation.
- Before switching the solar system on, TasNetworks will install a digital import-export meter which makes it possible to receive a feed-in tariff.
- The solar system is switched on and you’re ready to start saving with the power of the sun.
If you want to learn more about solar and how to find a reliable installer, check out our solar buying guide.
TasNetworks Contact information
TasNetworks is available to contact 9am-5pm Monday to Friday. The emergency line operates 24 hours, 7 days a week.
- Emergencies and faults: 132 004
- General enquiries: 1300 127 777
- Customer feedback: 1800 060 399
What’s next for Tasmania’s energy industry?
Tasmania has most of the ingredients for a competitive electricity and gas market, but it’s missing a vital piece – customers. With a population of only half a million, Tasmania is currently too small of a market for most major retailers to invest in. Additionally, while electricity prices are regulated, it’s doubtful that many mainland retailers will see much opportunity in Tasmania’s market.
While Tasmanians are severely restricted in retailer choice, there’s plenty other ways to save on energy. Canstar Blue has some useful guides to get you started.